Moon Jae In Government’s Think Tank Network based on academic research
Country/area: South Korea
Organisation: Kyunghyang Shinmun
Organisation size: Big
Publication date: 20/10/2021
Credit: Hyung-guk Cho, Yujin Kim, Sumin Lee
Kyunghyang Shinmun data journalism team was newly established in June 2021. The team is interested in social changes and problem phenomena that can be identified by data, protecting minorities, and increasing human rights. The team won the 2021 Korea Data Journalism ‘Data Visualization of the Year’ Award.
We identified 4101 co-authors of 2217 past writings (paper, report, book, etc.) of 70 scholars who entered the Moon Jae In government and identified a network formed around those participating in various committees. We wanted to indirectly show how solid the relationship between the parties can be by checking additional factors that can form personal relationships such as school ties, participation in the presidential camp, and affiliated organizations. Furthermore, we critically reviewed the roles and achievements of intellectuals in the progressive camp who entered public office after confirming the thoughts of key figures in their past writings.
The response was mainly from researchers, scholars, and professors who served in academia or public offices in the past. Disappointment with the current government’s intellectuals was the main evaluation. Some people expressed their intention to reflect on themselves in the network. There were also many objections, saying, “What’s wrong with running state affairs between people who share their original intentions?” Many people agreed that the current government, which was launched with high expectations after impeachment, needs a critical review of the role of intellectuals in it.
I self-evaluate that I have raised a problem that requires consideration in an intellectual society that is contemplating participation in reality. In the future, intellectuals participating in the government will not stop making monitoring efforts by verifying and evaluating in the same way.
What was the hardest part of this project?
It was difficult to determine how consistent the people who appeared in public officials’ past writings and those who appeared on the government committee list were. In particular, since the subject of the investigation was a scholar-turned-public official, the amount of individual writings was quite large. A lot of time was spent in the process of refining data by checking the writings that had to be filtered out, such as numerous people with the same name or writings written alone.
There have been many reports that contain a sense of problem that solid connections of public officials lead to closed state administration, but they have not been dealt with in a way that can quantify them.
It is also the first time that data has confirmed that figures in key positions in the author’s network are also in key positions within the current government.
What can others learn from this project?
We would like to emphasize that we have confirmed the characteristics of the current government’s intellectual network despite the complex net. Articles that analyze the common attributes of government officials based on regional bases such as Yeongnam and Honam(province in Korea) or based on high schools and universities have been steadily reported, but we don’t think they have drawn a full picture of the network. In particular, we are confident that it was the first attempt to check the network in writing activities that contained the orientation and concerns of public officials from scholars. We think it is also the achievement of this report that we were able to identify people with outstanding connectivity within the network.